Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Cranky Season

As I mull over another SoCal year come and gone, I wonder... I need a pedicure?

I once resolved never to make a New Year's resolution. (Yeah, I know - irony and juxtapostion make strange bedpillows.) However, this past year was pretty awful, with terrible things happening all over the world - Tom Cruise became a daddy, George Clooney stood me up again, the Yankees got ripped off in the playoffs... So I figured - maybe I could somehow make 2007 a little better, a little nicer. Think global, act local, all that yadda stuff. With a bit extra junk in the trunk , I figured I'd do what I could to make my little part of the world pretty. I'm joining the cattle call known as the January Starvation & Fitness Festival of Lites and Weight-loss Infomercials. Diet time. Happy, happy, me.

Coming off weeks of stringent partying, I'm determined to run, crunch, and pump my flab away. Unfortunately, after gorging myself silly in traditional holiday fashion, I'm afraid the only thing that vicious, torrid exercise is will do for me is give my stretch marks whiplash.

They (whoever 'they' are) say to never go on a diet alone, so I insisted that my overstuffed closet and bulging credit card balance join me. After all, they had gotten me into this mess, or at least gotten into it with me. Plus, if this worked out, I'd fit into my old skinny clothes, throw out my 'fat' clothes, and quit buying new 'fat' clothes. So that's like killing 7 birds with one candy bar. Or something.

Here's the only caveat - this diet thing makes me cranky. I certainly don't mind being cranky, but it is apparently a HUGE issue with other people. Like they've never suffered through a diet before. Come to think of it, some of them could really afford to relax their grip on the feed bag once in a while. I mean, talk about taking a walk on the wide side.

By the way, I'm not exactly what you might call fat, just emotionally tubby, which is worse, because I feel like I'm fat, but I'm not, so nobody empathizes with me. We're talking about five pounds, tops. Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder, right guys? Hopefully a lite beer.

Since I've started my diet, ok, since I've started talking about starting my diet, the rest of the world just doesn't understand how hard it can be for me to be me. Waddle a mile in my Uggs, ok? But noooo, they squawk at me to quit complaining, that I look gorgeous already, that they would love to be's enough to make me sick, which would be ok if I were into that binge/purge thing, but that's as passe as Britney's virginity.

Anyway, I'm not sure if it's really the diet making me cranky, or just everyone pissing me off. Either way, it's a fine how-de-doo lightyear away from merry, jolly December. And it's certainly not my fault. It's not, it's not, it's not.

Sigh...where's the chocolate?

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Too Christmas?

Too loud, too lit, too much. O
verindulging ... underestimating.... emotions and opinions swelling and swirling on the tidal wave of loot, lights, and libations. Too much hype, not enough help.

A look back... questioning, pushing, analyzing ... hindsight wrapped in a velvet ribbon. A pretty present before it's opened, a pile of crumpled paper when it's done.

At the darkest time of year, we light the night. At the coldest time of year, we offer warmth. We sing above the quiet, frozen earth. A time of extremes, endings and beginnings, solemn worship and over-the-top inflatables. Searching for the perfect cashmere wrap while downtown a child shivers. We're far from perfect, but Christmas has a way of illuminating our best and worst.

And then it happens. The lights dim, the noises end, and in the chill of the night, Christmas comes - quiet, simple, true. Hope for the new, rest for the old. Out with the bitter, in with the better. And peace.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Secret Santa

Every year it was more of a struggle. His questions were becoming more complex, more suspicious. But it seemed like overnight that we went from "How does that HUGE guy fit down our chimney?" to "There are eleventy billion people in the world - there's no way he can deliver to everybody."

I'm a mom. My job is to have an answer for everything. It's what I do. It might not always be pretty, but it's gotta be there. For example:

Question - How does he deliver around the world overnight?

Answer - time zones- and since some poorer countries can't afford calendars, Santa can push the envelope a little and deliver on the 24th or 26th. Please don't mention this to anyone because it embarasses Santa a little. It used to be easy to get to everyone when there were less people, but now with air traffic, pollution,'s a tougher world.

Question - How does he deliver to everyone?
Answer - not everyone is Christian - you can leave off Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Republicans...that leaves maybe a few zillion Christians, and some of them have been pretty bad, so they only rate a quick toss of coal down the chimney. How he tells the difference between coal and frozen reindeer poo in the dark after being up all night is beyond me. I never could, but that's a story for another day.

Question - Flying reindeer? Really?

Answer - steroids (not really) . Actually, the reindeer are an old tradition. Now he's got some pretty high-tech stuff. Not sure exactly what, since it eludes radar so well. Something with stealth capabilities. NORAD tries to track him every year and fails. Yes, he's that good.

Question - The Santa at the Thousand Pines Mall looks nothing like the Santa at the Sunny Valley Mall. And they both look kinda phony.
Answer - You think Santa has time right before Christmas to sit in a mall and listen to kids chatter on and on? Of course not! He's busy compiling his database, optimizing his hard drives and backing everything up onto disk. So make sure to have your list completed by December 1st so I can email it to him. Any later than that, and you risk crashing his database and losing your spot on his list. You know the part where he's checking his list twice? Yup -dual drives. But with a database that enormous, you can never be too careful. Oh, and the Santas at the malls? Santa has a deal with a labor union.

Notice that each answer led off in an interesting direction - maps, aircraft, computers, frozen reindeer poo.... However, as the questions got tougher, I had to resort to better distractions, such as, "Did you finish your homework?" or "Is your room clean?" or "Are there any cute girls in your class?" This would usually clear the room.

But he was persistent. Frustrated with the seasonal grilling, I finally said, "Listen, if you don't believe, you won't receive."

This scared his younger brother tremendously. He just wanted the goods and didn't want to rock the toy boat. "I believe! Oh, I believe!" he shouted like a good faithful worshiper at the Temple of Lego.

This year, now in 4th grade, my non-believer was studying the North Pole. "Mom," he said, "There's no land up there. Just ice, and it moves around, so there's not even a real pole or anything."

"That's strange," I replied. "Then where does Santa live?"

"Mom," he sighed, "I don't think there is a Santa Claus."

"What?" I gasped, shocked, shocked to my very core. I wasn't giving in without a fight. "Then who brings all the stuff on Christmas Eve?"

"I think Jesus does," he said, "Because it's his birthday, and that's the kind of guy he is."

I had no answer for that. None was needed. Sometimes the simplest answer is the one right in front of you, so close that you can't see it until you stay very still and calm, questioning everything, yet open to anything. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Joyous Kwanzaa - find your faith, stir it well, and keep it warm.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Turkey a la Mode

As a kid, I celebrated the traditional family Thanksgiving - all day cooking, tons of food, a cool fall nip in the air. My mom would try to intercept my grandmother from salting the traditional daylights out of every dish. My younger brother would stand by the temperamental oven with the fire extinguisher, in case it 'overheated,' a traditional Celtic term meaning housefire. My other brother would discover a sudden, latent interest in football, aka 'any-excuse-not-to-help-in-the-kitchen.' My younger sister would 'help,' but ruin anything she touched, so our mom would shoo her off to play. At the time I thought my sister was clueless. Now I work with people who practice similar levels of incompetency. I call it planned adolescence.

Sometimes traditions bite. I used to prepare a big turkey, stuff it and roast it. My ex-to-be would then rise from his slumber on the couch, consume the burnt offering, burp, and return to his cushioned throne of torpor. Not long after that, I told the big turkey to stuff it.

I've started a new tradition. On the day before Thanksgiving, we go to the grocery store and watch the frantic shoppers. On Thanksgiving Day, we carve the traditional Southern California turkey...made of ice cream. On the day after Thanksgiving, we go to the mall and watch the frantic shoppers. And we give thanks for our untraditional traditions.

Monday, October 30, 2006

So-Cal Spooky

The sidewalk churns with noise and movement, squawking, squealing oddities dragging bags of plunder. Mini-vans pull up like so many circus clown cars, wee weirdos piling out to join the swarm. Too many's crawling with rugrats...where did they all come from? All this for a snickers bar?

Never in my life have I seen such commotion as on Halloween night in my neighborhood. The monsters grow with the darkness, little Pooh Bears and bumble bees waddle about as the sun sets, while tall hobos and slick cheerleaders party late into this unholiest of nights.

Why is the sky blue? How does Santa deliver all those toys? These questions pale next to "Why do we have to dress up and go door to door when you already bought 53 pounds of candy? Mom, just turn the lights off and have a KitKat."

I have no good answer for that, but my boys placate me and attempt costumes. Last year, my oldest was a decent version of the headless horseman, using my Australian oilcoat buttoned up over his head. His younger brother decided that he would be the headless horseman's seeing-eye dog. One block and several bruised shins later, they figured out that a shaggy sheep dog costume, with its long fur and bushy brows, did not make the best seeing-eye dog.

This year one will be a gorilla. The other wants to be a streaker. I'm going to turn the lights off and have a KitKat.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Taking Candy from Strangers

The town kids had it easy - they'd walk from door to door, scoring a tootsie roll or pixie stick every 30 seconds. But in the country, Halloween was a non-profit industry.

It started with the costume, which would usually consist of as many layers as possible. Creativity was non-existant- the idea was to survive:
1. warmth in sub-freezing temperatures
2. protection from dog bites - usually they'd settle for a mitten or a hat, giving us a chance to escape
3. identity protection - so word would not get out at school that I had to take my little sister with me

We looked like lurching balls of yarn. If someone asked me what I was for Halloween, I'd reply, "I am cold!" That usually shut them up, and sometimes they'd even throw in some 'pity' candy.

Mom would drive us door to door while Dad stayed home and scared the living daylights out of any visitors. He did that every day, but that's another story.

We would trudge from farmhouse to farmhouse, braving fierce dogs, spooky cats, and creepy people, just to get a sticky, clumped popcorn ball that would immediately begin to suck lint from our costumes. Usually my little sister unknowingly sat on hers, gluing her to the car seat. "Help meeeee!" she'd squeal at the next stop. I'd have to yank her out of the car, the two of us flying into the dirt, whatever goodies we had gathered spilling out into the darkness. Mixed blessing actually, since I'd always manage to lose my popcorn ball, and my sister had hers stuck to her butt. Plus I got to pull really hard on her arms, on the pretext of 'helping' her, and not get in trouble for it.

It was dark. Pitch black, blanket-across-your-face dark. Sometimes we were lucky enough that the full moon was out, shining on the snow, so we could see our fingers shaking and know how freaking cold we were. Once, my sister disappeared - literally. She had been walking behind me and poof! Gone. She had been chattering away, "Wait uuuuup!" just to keep warm, when bloop! Nothing but serene, peaceful quiet. Three stops later my Mom realized she was missing and made me go back and find her. Turns out she had missed a step on a narrow walkway and was swallowed up by a snowdrift. The only way I found her was by the smell of her sticky popcorn ball.

By this time, if we could gather enough strength, we would start fighting in the car, so Mom would 'punish' us by turning the car around and going home. Then we'd eat all the candy left over from the people that my Dad had frightened away. Why we ever left the house is beyond me.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Black-toothed Blueberry

Have you seen this guy? Tan, skinny, muttering, wandering aimlessly around the parking lot, waving his arms and nearly bumping into several cars. Chattering a mile a minute, voice heaving upward, peaking, then down like a verbal roller coaster. Voices buzzing in his head, I thought, like so many others. I looked for the telltale black bulge above the ear....but his messy-chic hair hid any sign of a headset. No matter, he was clothed in the latest style, scraggly, baggy jeans, worn bare with expensive faux dirt. Imported, of course. And he looked like he hadn't slept in days.

Was he begging quarters or trading penny stock? Hobo or metro? Upscale or up a creek? That Starbucks cup - cappucino or cuppa change? Either way we should steer clear of him, right? We try not to stare, but he's like a car accident - we simply must look, justified by thinking we may learn something. Do we? In trying to become a classless society, have we instead become a society with no class?

I read once that since every junior high kid was now wearing the baggy 'gangsta' look, the real deal had taken to dressing 'business casual-'
"Yo, 'sup? Stylin' golf shirt. Word!"
"Ese, yo. Nordstrom half-yearly sale. Peace out!"

It's unsettling when we can't accurately judge people by what they wear. At this moment you're judging me on my words - only my words, without the knowledge that I'm sitting here in my underwear writing this. Let that burn your retinas for a while. For bitter or verse.

Don't judge a book by its cover? Don't judge a Republican by his cover, either, or his pages. You can Foley some of the people some of the time, but a Foley and his money are soon parted. And what's a politician without money? Nothing but a bum. We hope.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Lice Whisperer

Back-to-school time in Southern California - watch the leaves on the trees turn from green to toast. Bombard neighbors and relatives with school fundraisers. Crank up the diesel-fueled homework generator.

As I shoveled my way through another pile of school notices, notes, and non-sequitors, I came upon the traditional yet cheery "Greetings-your-child-may-or-may-not-have-been-exposed-to-head-lice-we-must-tell-you-so-we're-not-liable-have-a-nice-day" announcement. Why Hallmark has not come out with a card for this occasion is beyond me. Every year we would get this note. Every year I would freak at the thought of tiny insects camping out on my children. Every year I would pore over their scalps searching for the elusive 'nit.' Never did I find anything.

Until now. Both boys had them. Yech. It was like playing 'Where's Waldo,' only in this case, Waldo had six legs and no sweater. My younger son was worse – crawlin’ with crawlies. Waldo’s extended family, I guess.

I immediately bought the $20 (ripoff!) bottle of magic shampoo and globbed it on our heads. I then boiled every piece of fabric in the house, shaved the dogs, and offered a burnt sacrifice to "Rid", patron saint of bald children. (To be honest, the 'burnt sacrifice' was our dinner that I had neglected while I was shaving the dogs.) Armed with the traditional teeny combs, we then began the ritualistic hunting of the nits.

Novices may think that is all there is to it. Veterans of the Lice Wars know better. Twice a day we hunted. Every seven days we’d adorn ourselves with stinky goop shampoo as an offering to repel the evil insects.

But still they came, crawling back again and again for more. Finally we cornered them. On my youngest son’s head they made a stand, drawing their tiny covered wagons into a circle.

The instructions on the shampoo bottle may tell you what to do, but they don't tell you how to get it done. "Take traditional teeny comb and scrape through child's hair as they squirm, pausing often to yank on individual hairs to induce screaming. Rinse & repeat for 45 minutes."

No sober seven-year-old will stand still for five minutes, much less the 45 needed to properly explore his cranial bug zoo. I was desperate for a solution, and my tranquilizer gun was empty. But since you were kind enough to read this far, I'll share my solution with you, although it's not for the squeamish.

We filled the sink with water. I armed my son with a long hair from my own head. This, I told him, was his fishing pole. If he could hold still, in a few minutes we'd be going lice fishing. As I combed through his hair I'd put any bugs I found in the 'pond', and he'd fish for them with his 'hair pole.' This was fascinating, to the point that he was very upset when he no longer had any lice on his head with which to restock his pond.

When you're done scratching I'll continue. The audience is now split between those wretching at the thought of crawlies in their hair and sink, and the others making note of my technique to use in the future. Judge not, lest ye yourself be itchy.

Thursday, October 5, 2006

The Humor Crisis

A friend called me today, badly shaken up. "You gotta help me," he begged. "I can't go on like this. There's too much. We're working day and night, trying to keep up, and they, they just keep coming! My head is spinning...I've got agita out the wazoo. We can't take it much longer - please do something!"

"Who is this?" I asked. I, too, had felt the sting of the whip, and not in a good way. So I knew where what's-his-name was coming from, and it had to stop. Too many people were getting hurt. But what to do?

An embarrassment of riches. If you thought it was excessive during prior administrations, it was never like this. Ford has his fumbles, Nixon his jabber-jowls, Clinton....well, jeez - who could ask for more than Clinton?

But we got more, didn't we, and our poor, overworked comedians can't keep up. At first, jokesters thought they'd hit a goldmine. Nonstop bumbling rants, furrowed brows - Larry, Moe and Curly got nuthin' on Bush, Dick, and Rummy. But it's a fool's goldmine, wearing everyone down. Leno is speed-reading to get everything into his monologue, icing his overheated jaw down on commercial breaks. Letterman is constantly on the verge of an uncontrolled eyeroll. (Sure, he's always like that, but still.) Craig Ferguson no longer needs to say anything - he simply tweaks his head to the side, bird-like, and looks at the audience. What can you say when the White House is the Ice House?

How long can you laugh before suffering a hernia?
I can see the lawsuits now - "Your honor, my client was not duly advised when he entered the nightclub that he would be subjected to intense, gut-wrenching humor. The proper safety warnings were not in place. My client suffered immense emotional damage induced by the defendant's willful and premeditated jokefest. As a result, my client is no longer able to continue his career as a marine proctologist. We'd also like to submit this bill for dry-cleaning."

It's only funny until somebody loses an eye. This proud generation of joke jockeys is beaten down by sheer volume, trying to stay afloat on a sea of pathetic political punditry, living on out-takes and take-out, lattes and late-night. Some have already snapped under the pressure, reduced to insipid, mute sideshow performances. So if you see one wandering the streets, exhausted and speechless, give him a hug. Because a mime is a terrible thing.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Incident 475

The Day Fire, so called because it started on Labor Day, burns to the north. It's already cooked 130,000, whoops, make that 150,000 acres of California real estate. A realtor started it to ease the 'housing bubble.' Too much land on the market - let's just barbeque some - that'll drive the price back up, right? Actually it was started by somebody burning Paris Hilton dvds. Let that be a lesson - on holidays that honor the everyday worker, never, ever get off the couch.

I grew up in snow country. Sometimes late on a school night I'd sneak downstairs and turn on the porch light, hoping to see little flurries floating down, giving me hope for a 'snow day' and no school. Now ash was falling like snow, swirling in the porch light like so many SoCal snowflakes. My sons hoped for a 'soot day.' A tradition, although warped, continues.

Gotta go prepare the subterranean guest rooms. The Bunny family in the backyard is expecting about 327 extended family members, displaced by the fire, to arrive soon. This happened two years ago when a smaller, closer fire occurred. All kinds of critters moved in. "Smoking or non-smoking?" I would ask. Forest animals don't laugh much, and some lacked proper manners. The raccoons were the worst. They'd leave wet towels on the bathroom floor and get fur in the bathsoap. They would wash everything! I think they had OCD.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Josie Speaks

Hi - it's me, Josie, the dog, the one Annie didn't write about. I figured it was only fair to let you know I'm here too. I'm a very nice, well-mannered labrador retriever/border collie cross. I'm very smart. I spell better than most people. Whoops, I meant I smell better than most people. Annie's been very busy watching the Yankees march toward the playoffs, so I thought I'd sneak in here while she was gone. (Pardon my french poodle, but if you thought typing was a b!tch, try it sometime without opposable thumbs.)

Did I mention I was smart? I'm also very attentive and thoughtful. If you were here, I'd fetch you something. Anything! Over and over and over again. Because I'm a caring canine. And because obsessive compulsive disorders in border collies are well, obsessive. If you ever need someone to worry about you, I'm your dog.

Apparently this is not a character trait of some other dog in this house, while we won't mention names, but his rhymes with 'take' and 'snake,' and 'break.' And yes, he's good at all that stuff.

Who chewed up the legos?
Who stole Josie's squeaky toy...again?
Who doesn't know how to fetch?
Who uses his outside voice in the house?

You get the idea. Anyway, that stupid Scottie is trying to swipe my tennis ball again, so I gotta run.

Monday, September 4, 2006

Ode to Jake

There is something gluttonous, yet enviable, about being able to walk into a room or a life and immediately locate the most pleasant, comfortable place to recline. Whether it's the coziest corner of a sofa or a soul, there's a rare art form to finding it.

My nine-year-old son wanted a cat for his birthday. He's allergic to them, and I don't do litter boxes, so he opted for a "cat-sized dog." He thought a Scottish Terrier would be nice, so off I went to troll for his birthday present. I found a Scottie named "Jake," but no picture, so I requested a photo. A week went by before I got a response, explaining that all they had available was an old photo in which they had shaved him completely to keep him cool, so he looked a bit odd. In the photo, he looked like a naked but smiling rat. With a birthday fast approaching, it was at least a happy rat.

After Jake sent one of his animal rescue minions to review our house to see if it was up to his standards (it was), we were instructed to bring in our current dog, Josie - an over-achieving border collie/labrador cross, for a 'compatibility check.' On the way to her interview, I prepped Josie on proper Scottish traditions, and warned her, at least for the day, not to diss haggis, kilts or the Queen. She aced the test, even the verbal essay question about ending world hunger.

When we first met Jake, he was trolling the buffet at PetSmart, the other end of his leash attached to a young animal rescue volunteer. He must have been familiar with the food there because he was waddling his way about the spilled treats to find the best ones. I was expecting a cute little Scottie, like Jock from "Lady and the Tramp." Jake could have eaten Jock for dinner. He resembled "Citizen Kane" more than "Lady and the Tramp," his portly gentleman's style cloaked a "I'll-have-my-bacon-now" attitude.

Nonetheless, we took him home. He sat quietly between my sons in the back seat of the car, like a funny-looking friend with a unibrow. Upon arriving home, he promptly took up residence in Josie's doggie bed. No growling, no fighting - he did it by conveniently forgetting over and over that the bed did indeed belong to Josie. I would remind him of this fact, and he'd look at me like it was a glorious revelation. "Really," he seemed to say, "So sorry - I had no idea." Ten minutes later, he'd attempt another assault on poor Josie's bed. This continued until we all gave up.

Jake is here to stay, although we may have to leave just to get some peace and quiet. He's a furry, forty-pound trotting sausage who greets guests warmly by body-slamming their shins and howling in the finest of Scottish traditions. He has sauntered into our hearts and curled up next to the fire. And we wouldn't have it any other way.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

1st Day of School - Let's Play Two

I had a major quandary today (for Bush-backers, that means I had to put my thinking cap on). The first day back to school for my two darling sons - a big event fraught with stress, worry, and $437 worth of school supplies. Yes, a double latte day all on its own, but as if that weren't enough, the Yankees were playing two games against Detroit. So my dilemma was - who would pick up my kids from school?

This had been an issue before. A few weeks ago my sons had staged an intervention. "Mom," the shorter one said, "You like baseball more than us."

"That's ridiculous," I replied. "Quit blocking the tv. Jeter's batting."

This time the first game was on while I was at work so I got to watch it without interruption. However, the second one posed a bit of a problem. It was on during what I like to call the "Witching Hour" - when most families eat dinner and talk to each other. Yes, I know - how absurd. Plus, like I mentioned, this was the first day of that school thingy they have to do every year until they move out. And I just knew they'd start whining about how I shouldn't pack beer in their lunchboxes and how I had dropped them off at the wrong school so they had to walk to the right one, and to be perfectly honest, I had heard it all before. Time for a new pitch, boys.

We got home in time to see the last few innings of the game. I tossed them a jar of peanut butter and two spoons, and got to work studying Proctor's delivery. He was dropping his shoulder, overthrowing the ball again. Sure enough, some mook homered off him to win the game for Detroit. Ugh. If this was the way the rest of the season was going to be, I might just as well spend my time talking to my kids.

If only I could remember where I put them.

Monday, August 28, 2006

T.S., Ernesto

With all this talk of protecting our borders, I was shocked, shocked, to find out that some blowhard named Ernesto was audaciously, publicly making his way from Cuba to Florida. No green card, no visa, no Red Rover, Red Rover, let Ernesto come over. Why don't we stop him? Make him go through mountains of paperwork like a real American. He's already announced plans to head up the East Coast, like all the other seasonal 'guest workers.'

There's such a media frenzy swirling around this guy - he's in all the papers, on the news, and we just sit here, watching him. Except for some people in Florida who are actually running away from him! What are we, French? Patrick Buchanan and Anne Coulter seem to be cowering under a rock somewhere. Some fair-weather friends they turned out to be.

Where is the border patrol? Where is justice? Where's my hurricane party? This is obviously the fault of the leftist pro-immigration wussies. Green-house effect, my keester! Somebody needs to tell Ernesto to go rain on someone else's parade.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


I have had it up to
with the boo-bird A-Rod commentary. From now on, if a writer carps on A-Rod with the same old boring stuff, I'm going to bill him for the portion of my life I wasted reading his regurgitated pap.

We've all heard it so many times - fans boo A-Rod because he's not producing, he's not a clutch player, he hasn't won them a championship, yadda, yadda, yadda. Yes, he's paid a lot. Yes, he's the best. Yes, he's paid to win it all. Any writer offering these insightful revelations up as news fit to fill a column will be subject to my intense, personal hissing and namecalling. If the 'boo' fits....

Do we really want to be able to buy a trophy? That's the simplistic raison d'etre of Yankee-haters. But the glory of baseball is the lotto-esque feel - any group put together right has a chance. So while you can't buy it outright, since this is America, everyone has the opportunity to bust butt hard enough to build a team that can compete. George did, you just watched - get over it.

In the escapist mentality that is sports, Derek is Mr. Yankee Baseball, not A-Rod. Jeter, in all his bubblegum coolness, is a Shaftian Superman, a slick contrast to the 'Me Try Harder' Rodriguez. I even hear that Derek's bachelor pad resembles the Fortress of Solitude, but you ain't gettin' details outta me.

From his furrowed brow to his dusty cleats, A-Rod tries hard every day, sometimes too much, and sometimes- he goofs. Sometimes he's human, he's Clark Kent at third base. We all goof every day and would just as soon not be reminded by seeing his inward scowl, his frown because a sac fly didn't quite make it over the fence. We want a perfect comic book hero, not someone who grinds his own performance. Been there, left it there.

We want A-Rod to be Superman, but he's Everyman. It's easy to cheer Superman. It takes guts to cheer ourselves. And it's so much more important. And it's so much more of a (gasp!) story - helloooooo! Any writer who takes the easy route of dogpiling on A-Rod needs to go out and take the essay-equivalent of extra batting practice. And this time I want to see some real hustle!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Die, Bunnies, Die! Confessions of Cruelty to Cottontails

I'm not proud of this. I don't expect you to understand. I just ask that you walk a mile in my shoes without stepping in bunny poo.

The other day I went to the hardware store looking for a humane method to scare the patootie out of bunnies. Here's why:

  • Dogs pee on grass and kill it.
  • I replant grass.
  • Bunnies eat new grass.
  • Bunnies poop in new grass.
  • Dogs eat bunny poo.
  • Dogs barf bunny poo on carpet.

The circle of life needed to stay off my living room rug.

Normal dogs chase bunnies. My dogs chase shadows and people with macaroni & cheese. Knowing this, the bunny family invited their extended family, the ground squirrels, who in turn informed the local sparrow gang that grass seed was being served fresh daily. After gorging on Marathon Pro II seed, the birds would gather to bicker about whether my patio furniture would look more appealing in puce or taupe, literally dropping many 'hints' that the current color could use an improvement.

It was getting downright insulting. I'd come home from work to find bunnies lounging in the yard, literally lying down as they ate. All they needed was a sixpack and a Packer game on tv. The squirrel family let their bratty kids run roughshod through my impatiens. I'd point this out to the dogs and they would give me the "What do you want from us? We're dogs" look. That's basically their look all the time, but at this point, it was a pretty shoddy excuse.

The hardware store had an array of scare-em tactics. I found myself purveying a large inflatable snake for $12.99, until I realized I would probably forget it was fake and freak my own self out more than the animals. (And I'm not even addressing the Freudian aspects of that.) No good - the sparrows would have a fit, since the snake clashed with the patio furniture. There was also:

  • some sour stuff you could spray on the grass - after a doggy taste test, I could see that being hacked up on the living room carpet tout-suite.
  • Chicken wire fencing - nope - last Easter, the squirrels had given the bunnies a custom-made rapelling set. Might as well install a jungle gym for Junior Bunny.
  • Motion-detector sprinkler - this held promise, until I remembered the time I used a hose in an attempt to flush the squirrels from their underground lair. They just converted their rec room into a spa, and their property value doubled.

As much as I didn't want to hurt the bunnies, I was getting desperate. My lawn was disappearing - I had to kick cottontail ass or risk, horror of horrors, admonishment from the homeowners' association.

I found my solution in the strangest of places - the clearance rack at the local music store. Apparently small, suburban furry folk abhor Barry Manilow tunes as much as the rest of us. And if they somehow develop a tolerance for that (twitch!) music, I've readied a recording of ESPN's Stuart Scott. To be on the safe side, does anyone have a David Hasselhoff album I could borrow? Please don't tell PETA.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Mel's Lamentation (or Gibson's Two-sided Sorrows)

(for the pc-sensitive - take this in the spirit it was intended - mocking a hypocrite who in this case happens to be anti-Semitic)

Sung to the tune of Sinatra's "New York, New York"-

Start blamin' the Jews,
They own all L.A.
I wanna be a part of it,
Jew Narc, Jew Narc.

These schmutzige blues,
Are meltink avay,
Let's make a six point star of it,
An ol' Jew Narc.

Oy! Wanna wake up in a city that Levin keeps?
And find your rent's overdue,
Can't get it cheap?

Stopped blamin' the Jews,
I'm 'Levin' today.
Oy, watch I'll wear a yarmulke,
For you, Jew Narc, Jew Narc!!!

Monday, July 17, 2006

I am Woman, Hear Me Flush

The other day I was meandering through the local hardware store hoping to meet the rich hunky guy o' my dreams when I saw some toilet repair kits, so I stopped. Yes, I did. My house has a constantly gurgling toilet. If it burbled something intelligent, like "Paris is ugly" or "Bosox stink", I'd consider keeping the gurgler, or at least selling it to a good home on eBay, but it babbled nonsense constantly, like the Stepford wife next door.

To me, paying a plumber the equivalent of a pair of Dolce & Gabbana pumps just to mess with my pipes makes no sense at all. He's only going to waste my money on beer, and not even the imported stuff. Like many women, I don't enjoy handing over my paycheck to a guy who can't even keep his pants up properly. That's why I'm divorced.

Anyway - I saw hardware at the Do-it Center, whipped out my credit card, and brought home a lovely 10 inch ballcock. The packaging flaunted '3 easy steps.' The inside was another story - weird nuts, a washer, and an odd metallic thingy. I sighed. Yet another deceptive ballcock.

But unlike in my marriage, this time I would persevere. I shut off the feed line, swapped out the flush valve, screwed on the hex nut, hooked up the tube mahoozit and whammo, I was flush with excitement. Sorry, Mr. Plumber, but you needed to cut back on the Bud anyway. I'm going shoe shopping.

Thursday, July 6, 2006

A California Yankee in King George’s Sport

As a nation, we love underdogs. We cheer the eternal losers, the have-nots. We honor those who rise above their expected lot in life, who toss tea in the harbor and thumb their noses at royalty. Conversely, we sneer at the topcats, the aristocracy, the Trumps. Look how evil he is, with his arrogant smirk and his emperor’s new combover. A pox, or something, anything on his head!

"Hello, my name is Joe, and I’m a Cubs fan." That’ll get you a commiserating pat on the back and perhaps a free beer. Poor clueless Joe – doomed to a life of losing, somehow managing to survive on the kindness and kegs of sympathetic strangers.

Heaven forbid you prefer a team that wins, owned by a guy who has the audacity to announce that he (gasp!) wants to win! And then -holy gold bullion- backs that statement with his checkbook. The sheer nerve! How dare he be rich and successful. This is America, dammit! Be a humble failure and wait for a movie to be made about you.

I’d like you to meet the uber-underdog. "Hello, my name is Annie, and I’m a Yankee’s fan." Think the Cubs fans have it rough? Sure, their team hasn’t won since Moses threw out the first pitch, but just once, shut the heck up and walk a mile in my Guccis.

First of all, I’m in alien territory – California. New York has not forgiven California since O’Malley (aka – the ‘Devil’) shipped the Dodgers westward like so many mad cows. New Yorkers never forget- they can be living in Saskatchewan for 46 years and still retain that fragrant Brooklyn accent as they curse out Walter "Scum ‘o da Earth" O’Malley. New Yorkers also don’t like being told in the middle of winter that it’s "a bit chilly out here in LA, almost down to 60 degrees." That really frosts their pumpkins. (I have a whole list of ways to tweak New Yorkers, but my mom’s a union boss, and if I shared the list, she’d have me whacked.)

Second, I’m in LA, where the local team is owned by a guy who looks and acts like Snidely Whiplash with a decent tailor. He promises a pennant while he’s busy measuring the stadium land for condos. You can almost hear him waxing his handlebar mustache while he auditions "new talent" (aka losers) to sing the National Anthem at games for free. Next he’ll probably auction off to the highest bidder the chance to play 3rd base. So when a sugar daddy like Steinbrenner opens his wallet, these LA fans get a bad case of checkbook envy.

Fourth (I stole third, so sue me), when the Yankees lose, people rejoice like Britney got her tubes tied. What’s that all about? How healthy is it to cheer against somebody? I guess it’s better than taking it out on your cat, but really – find a therapist and get that chip on your shoulder surgically removed. Then have it bronzed, because that’s the closest you’re gonna come to a World Series trophy.

So the next time you run into a Yankees fan, whether it’s at the Ivy or Harry Winston’s, or even down in Newport Beach, try to remember the struggle they’ve gone through, the sneers they’ve endured, the crude verbal tauntings they’ve had to sue over. Have a little consideration for what their angst and buy them a nice chardonnay. It’s lonely at the top, but the view is spectacular. You may not be able to live up there, but if you’re nice to us, we may let you visit.

Sunday, June 4, 2006

Turning Coal into Diamonds

He was a small man, the stereotypical smiling Irishman, and he had a hard time finding a decent job in New York. "Irishmen and dogs need not apply," said the signs in the windows. So for years he drove a coal truck to feed his family. Dirty work – he’d be a sooty, sweaty mess by the end of the day, but his eyes always glinted and twinkled like he had the biggest secret.

Older now, he had a bungalow in Jersey and a tiny boat to chase the Atlantic bluefish. A proud grandfather, he spoiled the little ones rotten. Lace dresses for the girls, baseball gloves for the boys. Nana protested such extravagance, but Pop-pop just kept smiling.

The coal that fed his family finally killed him, emphysema burying his last breath in ashes. It was then that Nana came to me. "Pop-pop left this for you," she said, handing me a tiny velvet box. Years earlier, Pop-pop had surprised Nana with a magnificent diamond ring – a half-carat stone for every grandson, a full-carat for every girl. When he passed, Nana took the stones and had them made into 5 separate rings, one for each grandchild.

At the time, I wasn’t impressed. I had no need for a ring and I wanted my Pop-pop back. I wanted him to take me fishing ("No place for a girl," said Nana), and buy me a scary monster costume for Halloween instead of the princess I was supposed to be. I shoved the ring in a drawer and forgot about it.

Somehow, through marriage, children, divorce, the tiny velvet box and its contents have endured. And now, finally, I get it. Quietly, slowly, he had turned the soft, sooty dirt into hard, glittering beauty. An eternal, twinkling star to outshine all the darkness. Thank you, Pop-pop, for me, for all, for everything.

Saturday, May 6, 2006

Nowhere To Go But Up (Outta Bed)

Beep! I can’t come to the phone right now. Well, I guess I could, but I’m not. I'm on vacation, taking a break from just about everything, including phones, feigned politeness, and toenail trimming.

Yup, a real, real vacation – I’m not getting away from it all – I’m getting all of it away from me. The travel industry and the fossil fuelists will hate me for this, but I’m going to share with you a few secrets about this wondrous thing, vacation. For safety's sake, I’m going to use a high-tech level of security known as whispering:

1)You don’t really have to go anywhere. Yes, the first thing everyone asks you about your vacation is "Where are you going?" or "Are you leaving in the next few minutes?" and you might get strange looks for answering "I can’t tell you" or "Whereever the aliens take me." But there’s a hidden payoff – if you tell your boss you’re not going anywhere, chances are he’ll think you either can’t afford it, or you're gonna be out somewhere interviewing your buns off. Either way, play it right and you've got a raise. Also, if your parents find out you stayed home, they’ll think something is wrong, and either send money (yay!) or come over to find out what’s up(uh-oh!). If they’re the latter type, you’ll need to tell them you work surreptitiously for the Department of Homeland Selective Security. If they’re Republicans, they’ll be proud. If they’re Democrats, they’ll be afraid. Either way, they’re gone.

2)Does anyone remember what the original, vintage goal of a vacation was? Was it:
a)Visit in-laws until your head explodes
iv)Hopscotch across Europe faster than Hitler
%)Have fun
Obviously it’s 4) – combine naps, food, and tv into a veritable orgy of idleness. ‘Orgy’ was not my preferred word there, but you’d be amazed how adding that word to a blog can increase the readership. On that note, I’d like to welcome all the new visitors. I certainly hope I see you here more often, especially when we pass the hat around after the homily.

3)You know, I had another point to make, but I may not have mentioned this - I'm on vacation, so you're on your own.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Family Fun with the Ten Catholic Plagues

Ever notice how Jewish holidays seem to fall right before Christian ones? Like they were trying to outdo us or something. On his website, Dave Barry posted a link to a 'helpful' article about making Passover fun for kids. I had no idea being Jewish could be so entertaining! Here's the beginning of the article to give you the idea:

Since the idea of the Seder is to get children interested and involved, the Ten Plagues is a good opportunity to add an experiential, dramatic element to the evening. Plan ahead with some props and you'll see how much fun the Seder can be -- for children and adults alike.
Here are some suggestions for the Ten Plagues:
1) BLOOD -- Prepare a large, clear pitcher -- empty except for some red food coloring inconspicuously at the bottom. At the appropriate moment, pour in some water -- and watch the water magically turn to "blood!" (One technical point: Don't do the opposite and pour the food coloring into the water, as that would be a problem of "coloring" which is forbidden on Jewish holidays.) And if you're really brave, drink a little of the water, to re-enact the Midrash which says that even during the plague of blood, the Jews could still drink and have it taste like "water!"

Here's the link for the rest of it if you're interested:

Not to be outdone by Passover, and in response to the above article which gave me severe pentecostal envy, I've compiled my own list entitled:

1) BEER -- Prepare a large, clear pitcher -- empty except for, ok, just empty. Now get a six-pack from the fridge. Happy Easter. Think of all the money you're saving on therapy because you didn't make your kids drink fake blood like the Rabinowitzs down the street. Burp. Rinse bladder. Repeat.

2) BUNNIES -- And you thought it was a pagan ritual? Catholics traditionally reproduce as fast as bunnies. At least the chocolate ones don't ovulate!

3) PLASTIC EGGS-- After drinking six-pack, fill eggs with coins, candy, guilt trips, etc. and toss around the yard. These will be keep the kids busy outside in the morning while you apply the hair of the dog to your hangover.

4) BABY ANIMALS -- Does little Timmy realize that the baby chicks he sees at the Easter display in the mall will be in his Happy Meal next month?

5) PLASTIC GRASS -- You pop a jelly bean into your mouth. Oh, nooo - a piece of plastic grass is now stuck between your teeth! Meanwhile more pieces of grass are forming an armored division under your couch, to reappear at your 4th of July party.

6) COLORING EGGS (AKA THE PLAGUE OF THE WHITE CARPET) -- What dummy woke up one day and said, "Hey, let's boil some eggs and let the kids put bright colors on them. And let's do this right before we have everyone over for Easter dinner."???

7) BLACK JELLY BEANS-- and hey, they're kosher! Who knew?!

8) CONFUSION-- 'Good' Friday - Jesus is freakin' dead. What's so 'good' about that? When is a fast not a fast? When you're Catholic! When is 40 days not 40 days? When it's Lent! Badda-bing!

9) GUILT -- "Finish your meal - don't you know there are children starving in Ireland!" (If their mums cooked like mine, no wonder they were starving.)

10) FIRST BORN -- "Do you have any idea what we paid for your education?" When we Catholics pass down the torch to the next generation, we usually whack them over the head with it.

11) CHOCOLATE -- Yes, we have one more plague than the Jews. Neener, neener. You could look it up - it's in the NEW testament. Nyuk,nyuk!

Might I also add - Manischewitz has nuthin' on Gallo. Both are hideous. Oy!

Monday, April 10, 2006


Poor guy never saw it coming. Never saw it leaving, either. Unstudied, unlucky, pitifully guessing, trying to pick the lock on a woman's life logic, he was left blinking in the dust by the side of a wayward road. She’s a blur, he’s blurry.

In life's travels, men take the expressway - not the prettiest drive but it gets you there, quick and dirty. Women, on the other hand, prefer the scenic route - lots of curves, time-consuming, plenty to see. It’s also very easy to get lost, and as we know, men don't ask for directions. So when they’re in an almighty hurry to get to their destination, the scenic route can drive them batty.

I know, analogies, schmalogies. Any road warrior can tell you that an analogy and a credit card will get you a full tank of gas for your guilt trip. But I’m your tour bus driver today, and I’m a woman, so I’m taking the long way home. Enjoy the view.

It’s not completely hopeless. Ok, maybe it is. But we women can be figured out. Here’s the catch –any man who attempts to figure us out is immediately suspect by both sides. Female intuition instinctively keeps the man down by assuming that if you’re trying to figure a woman out, you’re trying to take advantage of her. Which, of course, is absolutely true, you horrid, manipulative beasts! See you in my rear-view mirror, buckos!

When a guy attempts to figure out why a relationship crashed, buddies try to spare him the pain they know is waiting for him. "Let her go, dude," they’ll shrug. "Walk away." But he can’t. Here we have the emotional equivalent of exploring a volcanic crater –nothing good will come of it, you know it can kill you, but you just have to check it out anyway.

While women strategize a game of 3-dimensional chess, men are playing Battleship, blindly calling out catch phrases in the hopes of sinking a dinghy or two.

Where was I going with this? Oh, that’s right, the scenic route past the battleship and the volcano, wherever those are. Isn’t life more about the journey than the destination? So why the big rush? Especially when you don’t know where and/or when it will….

Sunday, April 2, 2006

Note to Self - Help!

If I took all the energy I piled into trying to figure out men and rolled it into a career in writing, two things would probably happen. The first would be that whatever guy-du-jour I would normally be putting through a mental blender at the time would suddenly be oh-so-interested in me, since I was no longer trying to dissect his brain. The second would be that I'd be so fabulously successful as a writer that I would have no time for him. Perhaps I would pity him enough to offer him a position as a cabana boy at my infinity pool.

I used to take apart every relationship I could, like CSI with a crime victim or President Bush with the English language. Apparently spending twenty bucks on a self-help book like Men Are From Mars, Women Are From the Kitchen doesn’t do anything – you actually have to follow the suggestions for them to work. Or just leave the book in a highly visible place and you'll never see him again. That also works, with the addled (yes, addled) bonus of giving you plenty of free time to figure out what went wrong.

So how do relationship book writers stay in relationships? Or do they? I can't imagine any guy wanting to be the lab rat owned by a date scientist-
"So, what do you do for a living?"
"I write self-help books about relationships."
"Check, please!"

Maybe they spin their many failed relationships as "experience." I'd be thinking tramp! or loser! myself. But then, if the author were married for say 40 years, come on - one stinking relationship does NOT an expert make. Besides, you spent 40 years writing books - how much time did that leave for your spouse? No wonder you got along - you never saw each other.

I got this book, Don't Play With Your Feud - How to Be Successful in a Man's World, and I have this lab rat, er, guy, and I want to apply chapter 17, Help Him Help You and He'll be Greatful, to his cerebral cortex. Ever suggest a new way of doing something to a guy? "If you put a little WD-40 on that cohesive tranny beltway, it'll go faster." You get a look like you just asked him to put pickles in his peanut butter. Then one day he discovers, "Hey, I put some WD-40 on that cohesive tranny beltway and it’s much faster!"

So one day, deep in her forties, our heroine was disgusted enough to start taking some advice. This was one princess that was kissin’ no more frogs. She tried chapter 23 - Reverse Psychology:
"Whatever you do, do NOT ask me why I'm this gorgeous and still single!"
"Ok. Pass the salt, please?"
Ugh. Guess that just works on guys under 30. After that they're more interested in flat-screens and a hemi. Back to the drawing board.

If self-help books actually worked, you wouldn't have to buy more than one of them, would you? Yet isn't the publisher's goal to sell more books? Right? Are you following me? If so, I have pepper spray, you perv!

Somewhere there's a book that's so helpful, it's all you'll ever need. Publishers are, of course, on the job making sure you'll never see it in print. Until we do, there's always chocolate.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Nice to Be Here (based on a true urban legend)

Once upon a time there was a town so nice that one day, someone said, "Hey, this is a really nice town. Let’s invite some more nice people to live here so it will be a nice town, only bigger." So it came to pass that a kind developer drew up a plan to expand the nice town nicely. He did this by carefully using lots of green and blue crayon in his map. Then he asked the nice people of the town if they liked it.

"It’s a very pretty map," someone said.

"It could use more green," suggested another.

"I don’t like maps," whispered another.

Some of the nice people decided that since the map was so nice, they should make it really big, almost life size, and add it to their nice town. Other people, just as nice, were politely afraid that if they did that, their nice town might not stay nice. So the nice people shared a dilemma – while they were all darned nice people, they couldn’t agree on what to do. They certainly didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. So they decided to flip a coin. No, actually, they asked Simon Cowell to decide. Oops, sorry, no -they dug up a wooly mammoth. Ok, they really did that, but it has nothing to do with this story.

They did what nice people do all over this nice country of ours –they put it up for a vote. Everyone was quietly excited – some people put up lovely green and white signs that said, "No thank you – we are happy just like this." Some other people, just as quietly excited, put up attractive blue and white signs that read, "Yes, please – come live in our nice town with us." This was very exciting for the nice little town, just exciting enough to be fun, in a good way.

Then a not-so-nice thing happened. Some of the blue and white "Yes" signs disappeared. "That’s strange," said the nice people. "They are very attractive signs. Maybe someone borrowed them. They’ll bring them back soon."

But they didn’t come back. And the nice blue and white "Yes" signs kept disappearing, to the point where the people that had owned them missed them very much, and started have sign-envy of the people with the green and white "No" signs.

"It’s not very nice," said the "Yes" people, "That you have signs and we don’t."

"No," said the "No" people, "It’s not nice, but we don’t know what to do about it."

This upset the nice people of the town so much that they couldn’t sleep in their nice comfy beds. One night, while they weren’t sleeping, one of the nice people heard a noise outside their nice house. She peeked out and saw a large, squatty troll eating her "Yes" sign.

"Excuse me, Mr. Troll," whispered the nice person, not wanting to wake her nice neighbors, "That lovely sign belongs to me. If you’d like, I could make you some nice soup instead."

"Burrrrp!," said the troll as it waddled away.

That wasn’t very nice, thought the nice, sleep-disrupted villager. But with little experience in not-so-nice things she didn’t know what to do. At least she had another lovely sign to put out, and now that the troll had eaten his full, she felt confident the new sign would not be eaten.

The next night, the troll came back. His raucous burping awakened the lightly sleeping townspeople. After eating a few more blue and white signs (apparently the green and white ones gave him terrible gas), he waddled away again. This time a nice but very sleepy villager followed him. It was easy to do since the troll was such a messy eater he left pieces of half-eaten signs everywhere. Sure enough, the sleepy villager discovered that the troll did not live in the nice town, but a good distance away, in a city known as Uglyville.

The next day, which was a meteorologically perfect day in the nice town, some of the nice townspeople went to Uglyville to talk to the troll. Being very careful where they stepped, they approached the troll, who was snoring on a huge pile of sign debris under a dead tree. They waited patiently until he woke up. This was difficult because the troll, due to his poor diet, had very bad breath.

"Excuse me," said one, "But we’d really appreciate it if you didn’t eat our signs."

"Snark!" said the troll sleepily.

"Look," said another in his most stern voice, "We like our signs. They’re nice. Please don’t eat them anymore."

"Snork!" said the troll, eyeing the lovely blue and white hat of one of the townspeople.

"I don’t like maps," said a third, obviously confused from lack of sleep.

"Shush!" shouted the troll, "I’m sick of all of youse and youse silly signs. I’ll eat what I want when I want. And youse ain’t gonna stop me!"

And with that the squatty troll got so upset that he suffered a massive coronary, no doubt brought on by excessive cholesterol content of the blue and white signs, complicated by his sub-par anger-management skills.

The townspeople, while saddened momentarily to see anyone kick the bucket, brightened at the thought of such a lovely Deus ex Machina. Eventually the blue and white "Yes" signs were able to come back, happily side-by-side with the green and white "No" signs, like so many strange Spring daffodils.

And the nice townspeople took all the trash from under the troll’s tree and used it as sub-base material to widen the freeway, which made everybody very happy. And that, too, was nice.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

"O" is for "Odd"

Oh, my. I just watched the opening ceremonies of the NBC 2006 NBC Winter Olympics on NBC. Actually, I watched them last night but it took me until now to recover. Plus with the time difference, tape delay, and long, meaningful pauses by the announcers, it’s already next Tuesday.

I’m really trying to like them. But most sporting events are fast-paced, lots of noise, and the announcers (good or bad) are into it. So far, this show has all the pacing of an olympic bowel movement. Bob Costas puts me to sleep. Not literally, but he's a snore and a half. Meaningful pause? Noooo. More likely he’s trying to make it through 2 weeks of 24/7 broadcasting, so he’s dozing on his feet.

Before the opening ceremony began, they brought in a comedian to 'warm up' the crowd. When I say 'warm,' I mean something that would defrost the white wine slushies they were serving. When I say ‘crowd,’ I’m referring to the 33,000 people in the stadium, speaking about 834 different languages, with approximately 759 cultural comedic differences. Can you imagine? -
Announcer 1:"A horse walks into a bar..."
Announcer 2:"Un cheval camine dans le bistro..."
Announcer 3:"Ick ein cabal danke beergarten..."
Smedvig:"Vat horse? Vere? Shoot it, Gustaf! We eat again tonight!"

It didn't work. The temperature in the place after the comedian was hauled away was still a balmy 22 degrees metric. And what a supremely international way to bomb onstage. So quiet you could hear a Finn drop, a few coughs, and Bob Costas snoring.

I loved the simplicity of the 4th grader singing the Italian anthem by herself. Wow. In Italian even. Simple. Clear. Beautiful. Aaah, cut to commercial. Oh, well.

It’s difficult to please everyone. The Hindus were really miffed about the cow outfits. They insisted that they be designed to be flattering, that the spots follow a more vertical and slimming pattern. And the Tibetans were having a cow over the ‘mountain’ dresses. I have to agree – they looked like somebody lifted the design off a beer can. Rocky Mountain tasteless.

As I watched the parade of nations in horror, I was channeling Joan Rivers. "Awk – look at the Germans – tutti frutti, anyone? And what’s with the red and white color scheme – do they all work at Target or what?" At least she would have made it more interesting.

My neighbor must have had his disco station cranked, ‘cause all I heard during the parade was golden oldies. A rather peculiar contrast. What did they really play – Italian opera? Pagliacci, perhaps? Sorry I missed it.

I don't have hdtv, and I noticed a rainbow-type 'flare' on certain things on my screen. I'm assuming that's due to the hdtv signal. I've never seen it before. It was on an announcer's hair last night. I didn't hear a word he said. Oooh, shiny! It might have been an aura of some type. Turin is the home of the famous NBC Shroud of Turin. Never know when Jesus might make a special guest appearance. Is it sweeps week?

NBC, the Network of the Olympics, and proud owner of a slew of cable channels, is not broadcasting the Olympics here in primetime… much. Why not sack everything on MSNBC and just run a live feed from Turin? NOT TORINO. If they say TORINO, they should speak Italian ALL the time. Or start referring to Cleveland as "Tierra del Cleve."

Oops, gotta run. The women's freestyle is on and the boys are trying backflips off the couch.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Fear Fatter

Sometimes, I fear little girls. Yes, cute, bright-eyed little girls. It’s a seasonal thing, going on right now, which is why I’m in here writing on a beautiful day when I could be outside working on my winter tan like most normal Southern Californians. I close the blinds, put on my security-blanket sweatshirt, and huddle over the pc, shivering. Move along, please, nothing to see here. Maybe if I stay very still and quiet, they won’t notice me.

But they come anyway, wave upon wave of them. They know my ruse. They’ve seen it many times before. We all know it doesn’t work, that eventually I’ll give in like all the others. They relish the thrill of the chase, the gradual wearing down of the hunted.

Hide the cholesterol, it’s Girl Scout Cookie Season. Like uniformed, pigtailed lemmings to the sea they swarm, surging over each other to fatten both suburbia and the Grand Poobah Girl Scout’s wallet.

They ding-dong my doorbell, invade my grocery store, and blink bright-eyed outside my church. "Oh, you already bought some?" their little faces start to melt. "That’s ok," their voices fade as they choke back a tear or two while they quietly bestow a pixie curse on your head. So evil, so knowing, so successful. How can you not buy from them?

"Already have the peanut butter ones? Have you tried the Thin Mints? We also have low-fat!" Do I look like I need low-fat? Girls can be so cruel.

Other organizations have the presence of mind to offer kinder and gentler promotions. Boy Scouts hit me up to buy popcorn every year, but hey, it’s in the fall and I can regift it at Christmas. Our school wants us to buy wrapping paper (with which to wrap the regifted popcorn), and I must say the wrapping paper doesn’t pack on the pounds. But here come the Girl Scouts in January, as we mourn our fattened credit card statements, and give up the ghost on our New Year’s resolutions. Those little chunky delights are there to help us drown our sorrows in Shortbread.

They’re good, but they’re not perfect. Think how much more money they’d make if they sold their ‘sucker’ list to a company like Weight Watchers. First the Scouts hit up the unsuspecting victim for a few boxes, then, when she’s finished scarfing down the last of them, prone on the couch and wearing sweatpants, they sic Jennie Craig on her.

Some day, little girl, you, too, will be old. Your doorbell will ring, and you’ll try to hide, but some spunky package of perkyness will get you, my pretty…and your little dogma, too.